Thursday, June 24, 2010

Slow Down and Savor v. 2.0

I put tremendous care into selecting the most wonderful ingredients available to me and spend time and effort lovingly preparing them into nutritious and delicious meals for us to enjoy yet I still eat too damn fast.

For me, fast eating was a learned behavior. Members of my family have always been fast eaters. Climb in the way-way-way back machine with me to when my parents were still married. My father would very occasionally take us out for a meal on Sunday and it was rush rush rush so he could drop us off home and get back to "whatever" it was that he was up to. No chit-chat, just cram and scram. Very stressful memory, that. Growing up, family dinners were rarely a leisurely affair. It's something that I regret because the breaking of bread with loved ones should be a lovely and leisurely pursuit, as much about spending time with your people as about the food.

There's another element to fast eating. I've talked about this before, emotional eating is about distraction from feeling, and the payoff for me was that serotonin dump that I'd get after inhaling a box of Twinkies or a two-pound bag of peanut M&M's hidden in the couch cushions. The faster I ate, the less I had to think and feel, the faster I got filled up, the faster I could get lost in that great and terrible numb.

I've done lots of work into my emotional overeating issues and don't abuse food that way anymore yet the bad habit of fast eating lingers. I've started noticing at dinner the past couple of weeks that by the time I've finished eating, Rob's plate is still a third to half full. Granted he eats larger portions than I do, but that's no excuse for me to be eating so quickly. Noticing is the first step into helping to remedy the situation. And now I need to practice slowing it down at mealtimes.

Here is a great article from an Alaskan newspaper called Mindful Eating offers non-diet approach to good health.

Zen Habits has 5 fantastic reasons to slow down at meal times. Numbers 4 and 5 are my favorite.

In the longevity section at, there is a simple yet powerful article by Mark Stibich, Ph.D. on how to slow down while eating. Called the "Fork Down!" technique, it basically calls for putting your fork down between bites and not picking it back up until you've finished chewing and swallowing. Such simple advice, but pretty tough for someone who's used to speed shoveling. I am going to give it a go because this is one habit I want to acquire. If you've overcome this bad habit, please share your advice!

Happiness isn't an empty plate, it's in each lovingly prepared bite. Even if you're eating your way through a box of Twinkies, joy isn't found at the bottom of the box, it's savoring each gooey, cream-filled bite.


  1. Another great reminder...It is still an issue for me, though I do try a bit harder when the food is good quality food.

  2. Great post! I, too, used to be a fast eater. I've been getting better at it. Basically, I use the Fork Down technique, plus my boyfriend (super slow eater) will let me know if I start poking around my plate with the fork while my mouth still has food in it. Ask your husband to help and let you know when he notices you're eating fast. Good luck!

  3. Good post! I am working on the same thing. I not only put the fork down between bites, I take a sip of my water. I had a bad habit of eating my complete meal without drinking much, but now I can easily drink 16 to 24 oz. of water with a meal.